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Live from the Village Vanguard DVD's
|Collected Works : A
Journal of Jazz 1954-1999 by Whitney Balliett
Whitney Balliett achieves the impossible: He has the rare ability to lyrically write about jazz events in a manner that allows any reader to experience the music, the musicians and the scene without getting lost. During a lifetime of honing his considerable skill as a writer of jazz for The New Yorker since 1957, he has maintained an enthusiastic descriptive style that instructs as to the historical relevance and stylistic legacy of the players he profiles. Often his writing equals the elegance and creativity of the music. If you are looking to know about jazz, this is the one book to own. ~GP
A History of the New York Scene by Samuel B. Charters and Leonard Kunstadt
Although this book is out of print, it is not impossible to find and well worth the effort -- especially if you found this site based on a passion for New York's jazz past. Charters and Kunstadt have done exhaustive (ten years) research into the world capital of jazz, to uncover the stories, photos and other printed media that bring the old Harlem, 52nd St. and Greenwich Village back to life. From James Reese Europe's Hellfighters Band and the Original Dixieland Band through the Modern Jazz Quartet and a look toward the future, this book has it all. ~ Gordon Polatnick
A History of America's Music by Ken Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward.
This companion book to the 10 part TV series, Jazz, is decidedly less controversial to hard core jazz fans. The documentary has been the subject of debate since before it aired -- criticized for its editorial decisions to focus on certain artists and their contributions to jazz, while ignoring or glossing over others. Here in the book, though, the photos and organization of jazz history are rich in detail and cover the subject in a more appropriate manner for answering questions and satisfying instant gratification. Better than any book before it in covering the minutiae and world renown events in jazz, Burns and Ward's book succeeds in bringing home the impact that jazz music has had on American culture and abroad. The celebration is infectious. ~Gordon Polatnick
|Space is the Place:
The Lives and Times of Sun Ra by John F Szwed
Born Herman Poole Blount in Alabama in 1914, he reinvented himself in the 1950s as Sun Ra, the great surrealist of jazz whose free-form performances with his Arkestra amply justified the description "'jspace music." His mystical beliefs were equally avant-garde; Yale professor John Szwed sympathetically explains some fairly far-out notions as "driven by a hunger for totality that only music could express." Szwed recovers the biographical facts Sun Ra was often at pains to obscure, without losing sight of the overriding role imagination played in this visionary life. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. ~Amazon editorial
| The World of Duke
Ellington by Stanley Dance
The legend of Duke Ellington's sound has always been entwined with the idiosyncratic "voices" of his individual soloists. As friend and confidant to the maestro and his orchestra, Stanley Dance had a unique opportunity to observe and interview Duke and his legendary sidemen. Along with Duke, interviewees include: Johnny Hodges, Billy Strayhorn, Cootie Williams, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Clark Terry, Paul Gonsalves, and Cat Anderson -- about thirty in depth studies in all. Dance also covers a tour of Latin America in diary form, and touches on Dukes sacred concerts. Great candid photos dot the book. There are many books on Duke, but I like this one for its intimacy and first person accounts of the man and the band through six decades of highs and lows. ~Gordon Polatnick
|Really the Blues
by Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe
I wish I was around in 1946 when this book first came out. It seems to teach Henry Miller how to write from the gut. Reading Mezz Mezzrow's first hand tales of Louis Armstrong, Chicago gangsters, Bessie Smith, Harlem street culture, the reefer trade, and the humanity which sustains jazz musicians such as he, is more vivid than any movie on the era could conjure. The book is written with a purity of purpose which is to describe a gritty culture from its sweetest center. The facts of the story may be challenged, but never the attention to real human feeling, where joy and grief are both treasured emotions. A glossary in back assists with the authentic lingo in which the book was written. I didn't put Really The Blues down till I read it twice through. ~ Gordon Polatnick
: The Autobiography by Miles Davis, Quincy Troupe (Contributor) (September 1990)
Miles Davis in his own voice. He had such an identifiable voice on trumpet, no less so in writing his life experiences. This book takes us back to 1940's Harlem and down on 52nd Street where Miles helped influence a sea change in modern jazz. The personalities come to life in Miles' words -- giants of jazz become recognizable as men with distinct character traits both enhancing and detracting from their legendary status. Miles also takes us with him on tour and in seclusion, from birth to near death. Great photos included. ~ Gordon Polatnick
Note: The above link includes several more objective surveys of Miles' career,
Including: Miles Beyond : Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991by Paul Tingen Milestones : The Music and Times of Miles Davis by Jack Chambers
Gordon Polatnick's BigAppleJazz.Com
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